This year, our Federation’s Sylvia Weisz Women’s Campaign brought its D2: L’Dor V’Dor annual event all the way to the shore—the Santa Monica shore, that is. On a breezy Wednesday morning, women of all generations gathered at the stunning Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, just steps from the Pacific Ocean, to celebrate our Jewish community and the impact we make together.
The hotel’s 118-year-old fig tree was a magnificent centerpiece to the open-air brunch, as women connected with old friends and made new ones. From first-time attendees like Community Leadership Institute participant Andrea Guttag to longtime Federation supporter Rina Cowan, everyone had something to say about the wonderful setting and how amazing it was to see so many women, of all ages, gathering for a common purpose.
Following brunch, the women headed indoors for a moving program beneath the sparkling chandeliers. Lori Weisskopf, Co-Chair of L’Dor V’Dor, offered High Holiday greetings before introducing our Federation’s past Women’s Campaign Chairs and current lay leaders. Federation President & CEO Jay Sanderson then reflected on his experience visiting with one particular individual in Israel during the recent crisis, a woman who had escaped an abusive relationship only to be traumatized by rocket fire and sirens. Thankfully, she and thousands of our Israeli brothers and sisters received psychological counseling through our Israel Terror Relief Fund. He also spoke about one of the 25,000 Jews in Ukraine in harm’s way who was able to provide food and medicine for her son thanks to our Ukrainian Jews Relief Fund. And he mentioned how students in our community, including his daughter, are returning to college in an anti-Israel environment, but can now turn to a community of support through our Federation’s Campus Outreach Network.
Afterward, a heartfelt case for giving was made by Heidi Monkarsh, Chair of the Sylvia Weisz Women’s Campaign. She recalled how, while attending Rosh Hashanah services this year, the prayer Hayom (Today) motivated her, and she urged the room to leave a mark on our Jewish community—today. Thanks to the generous women in the room, an extraordinary $1.6 million was raised for our Federation’s Annual Campaign the day of the event, supporting our impactful work around the globe.
Heidi also warmly introduced Doris Factor Young Women’s Leadership Award honoree and L’Dor V’Dor Vice Chair, Allison Gingold. A former Chair of L’Dor V’Dor and an active leader in our Federation’s Women’s Campaign for more than 15 years, Allison thanked Federation staff and her fellow L’Dor V’Dor members for their friendship. Although she lamented that she’d grown up thinking one day she’d accept an Oscar, Allison assured everyone that the leadership award was much more meaningful to her because it reflected her passions and beliefs. Bringing up the timely issue of anti-Semitism, she concluded her speech by praising the strength of our L.A. Federation and asked the question, “Do you think a woman in Paris is as comfortable being a Jew right now?”
To conclude the morning, Dana Simon, Co-Chair of L’Dor V’Dor, introduced journalist and best-selling author Abigail Pogrebin, who delighted everyone with humorous anecdotes from her book, Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish. She also had the room laughing about her unique experience growing up Jewish, sharing silly lyrics she sang with her siblings at Hanukkah, and recalling the graduation trip she and her twin sister took to Israel with a bus full of senior citizens. In addition, she remarked on her late Bat Mitzvah at 40 years old, and how she took a newfound interest in Judaism after her son was born. However, she urged everyone in the room to make the choice for themselves about how they experience their Jewish life. You can live vicariously through Abigail’s Jewish experience by reading her blog, 18 Holidays: 1 Wondering Jew.
D2: L’Dor V’Dor is so much more than an annual event where women unite over their shared values. Community member Bernice Wolf is a wonderful example of the powerful pull of L’Dor V’Dor. Although Bernice currently lives in Hawaii, she admittedly yearns for the Los Angeles Jewish community. She was thrilled that she was able to attend this year’s L’Dor V’Dor event with her daughter, Thea Nesis, while she was in town for the High Holidays. “When you get involved with the Federation, these women become your friends,” she said. “I really miss this.”
Aloha, Bernice—and see you next year!
For more information about L’Dor V’Dor, e-mail LdorVdor@JewishLA.org or call (323) 761-8275.